Friday, October 23, 2020

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #20

DC is in the midst of Metal, an event I am not reading after slogging through the very long convoluted Justice League lead-up. I have no idea what truly is going on there. But at the very least I know it is a big crossover with heroes fighting giant unworldly beings to save the world.

I honestly don't even know if Supergirl is in Metal ...

But it jogged my mind to see if there were any mega-events that Supergirl took part in that I haven't covered here. So today I'll review Supergirl #21 from the Peter David run which was part of the Millennium Giants crossover.

This is a pretty decent 'done in one' crossover with Supergirl clearly the star. At this time in the series, Supergirl's flame wings had just started to manifest. She had heard the words 'earth born angel' but had no idea what that meant. She had just revealed she was the Matrix/Linda Danvers amalgam to her parents, driving her mother back into alcoholism. And Superman was split between Red and Blue!

So a lot of backstory in this 50 issue mega-arc is starting to swirl here and David uses this issue, an event crossover, to nudge those things forward. And, as usual, there is a heavy emphasis on struggling to do what is right, faith, and belief mixed through this. I appreciate that effort making this still feel like a Supergirl issue despite the trappings.

Leonard Kirk is the penciller and had an impressive run on this book. His style suits the action nicely as he switches from scenes of ordinary folks and then gigantic monsters stomping through the ocean.

On to the book!

We start out seeing a young woman screaming about warning people about a disaster to come while around her are the ghostly images of  warriors in togas. 

We learn this young girl is the reincarnation of Cassandra, the cursed prognosticator from the Iliad. She currently is in an asylum on an island in the middle of the ocean, a place which resembles the walled city of Troy. 

But in a world with flying aliens and an Amazonian princess who fights the Greek god of war in the streets, no one believes this girl is Cassandra reborn. So she is instead kept here.

We see now that Cassandra's visions show not only Troy but the asylum in ruins and on fire.

But moreover, she sees a vision of the flame-winged Supergirl appearing.

Back in Smallville, Linda Danvers is talking to her two 'fathers'. One is Pa Kent who helped raise Matrix when she was getting accustomed to our world. The other is Fred Danvers, Linda's biological father.

Linda's mother Sylvia, a devout Christian, has lost her faith and has hit the bottle since learning Linda is also Supergirl/Matrix merged.

We get a backstory of how Sylvia was an alcoholic in her youth but once she learned she was pregnant with Linda she quit cold turkey. She embraced her faith as the backbone of her strength to overcome her addiction. And when Linda revealed her secret, that faith was shaken.

Given the results, Linda regrets telling her folks her secret identity. But the fathers agree, this was the right thing. Better to adhere to the truth than live a lie.

I thought this was a great moment in the book.

But there isn't much time to dwell on this. Supergirl is sent out by the heroes to try and stop Cerne, one of the massive Millennium Giants who is tromping around the ocean.

Indeed, the giants are so huge they probably aren't even registering human life. Here, Cerne nearly capsizes a cruise ship but Supergirl is able to right the ship, literally.

These things don't seem to be malevolent. They are just taking a walk.

We then get a little bit of some of Cassandra's back story. 

We see how she tried to tell her family the truth but they also turned their back on her, sending her away.

This is what could have happened to Linda when she said she was Supergirl. But Fred believed her and supported her.

Attempts to stop Cerne physically don't work.

They shouldn't. Supergirl is literally like a gnat against him.

But then her flame wings auto-activate. The first time this happened it was a painful transformation. But now it feels more natural.

They also seem to be guiding her in some way, telling her she should fly into Cerne's mouth.

I love the flame wings ... I do.

Impressively, she does seem to make Cerne pause as her holy fire burns him from the inside out. We see him manifest the flame wings and the S-shield.

But it is only a pause. Cerne then tries to absorb Supergirl's power forcing her to rapidly exit lest the giant get even more powerful.

At this time in this book, I think this was my first inkling that being an Earth Angel meant Supergirl was an incredibly powerful being.

Basically spat out underwater, Supergirl sees an image of Comet, an alien who has been seen in Leesburg and has been flirting with her.

He says that the two of them are more alike than she suspects, perhaps our first hint that he also is an Earth Angel.

See how David nudges plots like the Comet mystery and Sylvia's drinking into this book.

The giant's walk is so powerful that it creates an earthquake on the asylum island. Cerne then literally walks over it, crushing the place and killing everyone.

Luckily Red Superman is there to save both Supergirl from drowning and Cassandra from killing herself in a boat she was using to try and meet her destiny head on.

As we will see moving forward in this book, Supergirl has a little crisis of conscience. She saved the cruise ship but that meant neglecting to protect this island leading to all this carnage. Did she do the right thing? Her struggles with believing in herself and doing what is right is a theme we see all the way up to the climax of this huge plot in Supergirl #50.

Thankfully Superman Red is there to remind her that she probably couldn't have stopped Cerne from demolishing this place and at least she saved the ship. Heroes can only do so much.

I really liked this issue. While Millennium Giants didn't intrigue me, this issue let us sample Supergirl's new powers, pushed forward a couple of plots, and let that belief in yourself theme percolate a bit more. Leonard Kirk's smooth art suits the title perfectly. And I forgot how punny and brash Superman Red was. The only downside for me is that a lot of time is spent on Cassandra and I don't know if she add enough to the book to warrant that space.

All together though this is a pretty good book for a crossover issue.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

These panels look great. The story is included in the second volume of the TPB, so I'll be re-reading it.

Apparently Supergirl is in parts 6 through 10 of the 11-part Millennium Giants story, and this is part 6. I don't remember how big a role she plays beyond this issue. But during that era, Supergirl appeared constantly - usually in at least 3 titles each month.

Somehow I have some notes about the 11 parts of the Millennium tale:

1 Superman: Man of Steel #78
2 Aquaman Vol. 5 #43
3 Challengers of the Unknown Vol. 3 #15
4 Superman Vol. 2 #134
5 Teen Titans Vol. 2 #19
6 Supergirl Vol. 4 #20
7 Adventures of Superman #557
8 Steel Vol. 2 #50
9 Action Comics #744
10 Superman: Man of Steel #79
11 Superman Vol. 2 #135

There have been a couple of cameos so far in Dark Nights Death Metal:

1) Death Metal #3 - in a few panels, standing silently with a large group of other surviving heroes that were imprisoned in a jail in New Apokolips, which I believe is located in the center of the sun. Also, Artgerm drew a striking variant cover portrait.

2) Guidebook #1 - in a small, dark panel showing that same prison.

3) Death Metal #4 - pre-Flashpoint Supergirl appears in a couple of panels serving as an armrest for Darkseid in some Dark Multiverse world where he was the victor in Final Crisis. Cassandra Cain as Batgirl serves as the other armrest, while Hal Jordan crouches inside a seat construct he has created. Very creepy.


Anonymous said...

Let's recap:

In Dark Nights: Metal, Supergirl is only mentioned once. One of the evil Batmen mentioned he tested Black Kryptonite on her, and Kara killed her family before being killed by K-poisoning.

In No Justice, she makes nothing but to get shot down as a newbie.

In Year of the Villain... Well, you know what happened.

And in Death Metal she has been background ornament and Darkseid's armrest.

Yes, I think it is clear what Snyder thinks of her.

And HE is the one who is rebooting the DC universe.

Good grief.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the look back at the underrated Superman Red and Superman Blue period, I enjoyed the Millennium Giants business, interlocking covers and all. I was never keen on the flame wings and Earth Angel bit, but am grateful Peter David had a vision for the series and was able to see it through.

Poor Sylvia!

Anonymous said...

Apropos of Nothing, but Leonard Kirk had to illustrate a lot of apocalyptic action & violence etc on the Earth Angel Supergirl's book, which is ironic because I always thought he had a deft touch whenever the script called for comedy.